Monday, September 27, 2010

Darwinian Coincidence?

In this Sunday morning's sermon, Pastor Paul discussed "the current debate on evolution" as a way to delineate the Bible's role in helping us understand the world.

"The bible is not a science textbook," he said, and made it clear that a Christian could--of course--believe in the theory of evolution. "The theory of evolution says nothing about God," he said.

Just that the night before, we'd watched "Creation," the movie about Darwin's inner struggle about publishing "The Origin of Species."

Because God wasn't mentioned in Darwin's book, it was a threat to believers. This movie shows how much this belief could shatter people--Darwin himself developed psychosomatic conditions when trying to work on his book, especially after his daughter died. (This has been chronicled by biographers, so the movie folk weren't making this up.) He was grieving her loss; was he also grieving the loss--or what he saw as the loss--of the Christian worldview? If God didn't exist, what meaning could her death possibly have?

I was really moved by the movie's portrayal of the the close relationship between Darwin and his wife, Emma. Clearly, they were both very creative and intelligent people who supported one another. The movie shows how science and death have driven a wedge between this middle-aged couple. They're unable to really talk--or listen to one another. It makes everything--Darwin's writer's block and Emma's isolation with her children--worse.

I'm not sure how true-to-life it is, but the movie shows that they finally reconcile with one another--absolving each other of any guilt in their daughter's death--and after that, Darwin is able to finish his book.

Even with a "current debate" about evolution simmering, I don't think 21st century people can really understand how earth-shattering Darwin's views were for most Christians of the time. Both Emma and Charles Darwin must have been strong people to be able to live with that new world view and figure out a way for the world to have sense and meaning without the traditional view of God. Maybe they could only do it together.

The movie ended with words on the screen telling that the Darwins lived happily together until he died at 73.

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